There are certain things where I might not know they even existed if not for the Internet.
As a child of the 80’s, Heathcliff was very familiar to me. I would confuse him with Garfield — hey, I was young, and orange cats were interchangeable — but I also recall the familiar and catchy theme music. “Heathcliff, Heathcliff, no one should… terrify the neighborhood….”
What I didn’t know is that this wasn’t Heathcliff’s first animated series, but rather, another one came a few years earlier, on ABC… and the first season of that first show is now on DVD thanks to the Warner Archive manufacture-on-demand program. Sadly, that familiar theme song isn’t on this version, but it is a piece of animation history that, like most entries from the Archive, is fun to get a hold of.
It’s not surprising that I didn’t see this when it was first on; I was only two years old when it premiered in 1980. But I’ll tell you — watching it now, so many of the voices used within this Ruby-Spears production – including Mel Blanc, Henry Corden, Frank Welker, and Paul Winchell – are familiar sounds of my childhood. I mean, there’s even a skeleton that sounds like Scrappy-Doo and a guy chasing after Heathcliff that sounds like what would happen if Fred Flintstone was fused with Buford T. Justice.
The 1980 Heathcliff is formally titled The Heathcliff & Dingbat Show and pairs Heathcliff with entries from a different cartoon series centered around a vampire dog named Dingbat. Perhaps it is childhood nostalgia, but between the two, the Heathcliff cartoons are more appealing. They’re not laugh-out-loud funny that often, but, as with a lot of cartoons of this era, they take me back to when I was young, and they are “comfort material” if anything. This version of Heathcliff, while still having the same voice heard in the later DIC cartoons, seems to be a bit naughtier than the later incarnation. I don’t really know why I ever confused him with Garfield as the characters are nothing alike.
I know I’m repeating myself, but I love that the Warner Archive puts out rarities like these. The best way to get more like this, of course, is to support the Archive by getting sets like these. The Heathcliff & Dingbat Show contains 13 episodes on 2 discs, and it can be found to order directly from the Warner Archive here.